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7 Downtown Meals Under $7

A good lunch doesn’t have to break the bank. Check out some of our favorite cheap eats in downtown Honolulu.


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It’s tough finding a cheap meal in downtown Honolulu, especially a filling one, but these seven hit the spot without putting a hole in your wallet.

 

1. TOMATO BISQUE, ALOHA SALADS, $5.50

At Aloha Salads, $5.50 gets you an 8-ounce bowl of divinely rich bisque topped with fresh basil and parmesan cheese, plus a good half-round of warm pita bread to go with it (get extra pita for 50 cents and you won’t even need a spoon). It’s soup from a takeout counter, but it feels indulgent. 1102 Bishop St., 534-0000

 

2. SWEET BEEF BOWL, MARUKAME UDON, $5.20

The happiest bowl at Marukame, the cafeteria-style Japanese udon specialist, has no noodles at all. The minimalist-sounding sweet beef bowl starts with a generous portion of rice that’s topped with a ring of paper-thin beef and onions simmered in a light soy sauce. Add colorful mounds of red ginger, briny nori, green onion, tempura sprinkles and, if you like, a barely poached egg, and there’s more than enough to keep your palate dancing. 1104 Fort St. Mall, 545-3000

 

Sweet beef bowl at Marukame Udon
Photo: Steve Czerniak

 

3. AVOCADO SANDWICH, SUMMER FRAPPE, $5

This Chinatown spot is well-known for its fresh fruit smoothies, less-known for its banh mi. While the sandwiches are not traditional, they are delicious. The avocado one is a favorite—what appears to be an entire avocado jammed into a Vietnamese baguette, topped with a salad of veggies, pickled daikon and carrots, and some Maggi sauce for seasoning. 82 N. Pauahi St., 772-9291

 

4. Polish Dog, Hula Dog Hawaiian Style Hot Dogs, $6

Our favorite order at this window off of Hotel Street is a Polish dog in a bacon taro bun with mild jalapeño garlic-lemon sauce, pineapple relish and liliko‘i mustard. The meaty chunks of bacon baked into the bread are enough to keep us coming back, but all the tropical mustard and relish choices are fun to experiment with, too. You can also get a veggie dog or add extra toppings for less than $7. 1102 Bishop St., 585-8715

 

5. SHANGHAI WONTON, SHANGHAI CAFE, $5.75

“Cafe” is a generous term for a place that looks more like a crack seed and Chinese furniture shop, with a few food photos stuck in the window and a closet that serves as a “kitchen.” But it turns out some good, homey snacks, like these oversize dumplings packed with bok choy and pork. It also has the best sheng jian bao around, pan-fried buns made to order (best to call ahead half an hour for these). 1047 Bethel St., 599-3767

 

6. KIMCHEE FRIED RICE, SIDEWALK DELI, $5.00

Find this little convenience store in a corner of Fort Street Mall for the kimchee fried rice, made with house-made kimchee and capped with a thin sheet of fried egg. It’s homey and comforting, as is the experience—the friendly Korean auntie who runs the shop makes the rice on a plug-in electric griddle. Chaplain Lane at Fort Street Mall

 

7. CREPE POCKET WITH BEEF AND VEGGIES, SEASON'S ICE AND EATERY, $4.75

It’s like Taiwanese beef noodle soup in burrito form: The shao bing is sesame flatbread stuffed with braised beef, crunchy preserved vegetables, cilantro and bean sprouts. It comes with a peanut and sugar powder to sprinkle on. If you’re not a fan of the sweet-salty combination, use the house-made spicy garlic sauce, tangy and pungent, available in a jug on each table. Pretty much everything at this Taiwanese eatery costs less than $7, so you can go nuts. 100 N. Beretania St., 538-1978

 

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